FILE PHOTO - Otto Frederick Warmbier attends a news conference in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo February 29, 2016. .
(photo credit: KYODO/VIA REUTERS)
SEOUL - North Korea said on Thursday that American student Otto Warmbier had suffered no torture during his 17-month detention, a day after an Ohio coroner said he died from lack of oxygen and blood to the brain caused by an unknown injury.
Sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for trying to take from his hotel an item bearing a propaganda slogan, the University of Virginia student was held by North Korea from January 2016 until his release on June 15.
Warmbier died days after arriving in the United States and his parents said that their son had been tortured while in North Korea.
North Korea had provided medical care to Warmbier despite his "hostile acts" against the country, and claims of torture are groundless slander aimed at opposing the North, North Korea's foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the state-run KCNA news agency.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that Warmbier had been “tortured beyond belief
Trump’s comment followed an interview with Warmbier’s parents on “Fox & Friends” in which they described their son’s condition when he was released in June.
“Otto had a shaved head, he had a feeding tube coming out of his nose, he was staring blankly into space, jerking violently,” Fred Warmbier said in the interview. “He was blind. He was deaf. As we looked at him and tried to comfort him, it looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth.”
Prior to Warmbier’s death, JTA reported that he had been active in the Hillel
at the University of Virginia. Following his death, it was revealed that his family hid their son’s Jewishness from the public as negotiations for his release took place.JTA contributed to this report.